Blockchains in education: fad or opportunity?
Originally, in 2017, there was the very promising report of the Joint Research Center ” Blockchain in Education which heralded an upheaval in the majority of industries and business models. Two years later, during the conference Blockchain, Open Education and digital citizenship » A. Grechco-author of this report, reports a relatively slow progress, in a tension that remains according to him “unresolved between control and sovereignty”.
Several speakers drew a parallel between the internet and blockchain: two technical developments originally synonymous with freedom, based on open protocols, freeing themselves from intermediary bodies. With a key difference in terms of values: if the internet was initially built on a system of trust, the blockchain is built on an imbalance of trust, a need for certification and recognition of transactions and “minors”, third-party users which compete to solve complex calculations that will validate the transactions inside the chain.
… And as the internet has had its “internet bubble”, there would be a milestone to pass before the blockchain can really contribute to a world where “monopoly will be impossible” (cf. “ Beyond the bitcoin bubble “)
Reinventing the web…
The blockchain fascinates because it calls into question the very functioning of the web. The W3C standardization consortium is working on a new standard to get out of the current trend of data accumulation driven by the major dominant players on the web.
R. Verborghfrom Ghent University, presented the project “ SOLID which aims to create a new standard for separating data from the applications and servers that use it. The Internet would no longer be reduced to a competition in the accumulation and exploitation of data but would again become a place of innovation, where “basic knowledge in html and css coupled with an intermediate level in Java” are sufficient – these are the prerequisites to develop an application in “Solid”.
… and trust?
Like the association Recognize », French-speaking branch of the Open Recognition Alliance, the conference was also an opportunity to advocate the values of an open and learning society, built on a framework of trust and recognition of everyone’s talents and skills.
This is the case of BOAT network in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, which aims to bring together all the actors – colleges, high schools, universities, public actors and companies – to locally create an ecosystem where each individual can use their badges and have them endorsed by others and where one can check the proof of their attribution. Or the European project Extrasupto recognize the experience and skills developed by students during civic activities or personal commitment within their training course.
The richness of the initiatives presented during this conference organized by the University of Lille and the Commonwealth Center for Connected Learning is difficult to summarize: European projects such as:
- the European student cardto facilitate mobility and recognition of the student’s identity.
- digital safes offered to students, such as Grenoble-Alpes University,
- private digitalization and certificate security solutions,
- a European pilot project around the audit and transparency of European funding,
- network-level experiments ENIC-NARIC to verify the authenticity of diplomas within the framework of individual mobility paths from one European country to another…
And even more !
In the outlook, the development of a prototype European infrastructure of blockchain, within the framework of the “European Blockchain Partnership”, which will allow initial experiments on cross-border digital public services where the blockchain is supposed to bring added value. End of 2019, to be continued…
(Illustration: University of Lille, conference poster)
Blockchain, Open Education and Digital Citizenship Conference www.blockchaineducationfrance.fr/
JRC Science for Policy report. Blockchain in Education (2017) http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC108255/jrc108255_blockchain_in_education(1).pdf
S. Johnson. “Beyond the bitcoin bubble” (2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/16/magazine/beyond-the-bitcoin-bubble.html
To find out more: twitter thread of Perrine de Coëtlogon, Blockchain & education project manager at the University of Lille and French referent of the think tank on the uses of blockchain in education: https://twitter.com/perrinecoet?lang=fr
Already published on Thot:
F. Minichiello. “Blockchain in Education: Preparing for the Challenge” (March 2018) https://cursus.edu/11707/blockchain-en-education-se-preparer-au-challenge
(Last consulted: July 2019)
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